ShareThis Page
News

Sobriety test results in fatal Route 28 wreck 'surprising'

| Thursday, May 7, 2015, 11:03 p.m.

Even though Jared Schillinger told authorities he consumed between six and eight beers before crashing his car into another vehicle — killing its driver along Route 28 — a forensic toxicologist said Thursday the Indiana Township man would have had to have drunk 12 or 13 beers before he got into his car.

Schillinger, 30, is charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, involuntary manslaughter and related charges in the death of Rikki Fleming about 11:16 p.m. Feb. 16, 2013. He is facing a five-year mandatory prison term.

Authorities said Schillinger, who began drinking about 11:30 a.m. that day, failed two field-sobriety tests and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.23 percent, nearly three times the legal limit to drive.

The alcohol would have impaired Schillinger's vision, motor skills and ability to multitask, Jennifer Janssen, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's chief toxicologist, told Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Thomas E. Flaherty.

“He would not have been able to operate a motor vehicle safely,” Janssen said.

But a witness for the defense — called out of turn because of scheduling conflicts — said that while Schillinger's blood-alcohol level was high, officers and others who interacted with him after the crash did not say he appeared to be drunk.

“With the blood level reported in this case, I would have expected much worse performance (on the field sobriety tests),” said Dr. Lawrence Guzzardi, a Philadelphia physician. “This is a very surprising, very unusual situation, in my experience.”

Schillinger's lawyers are expected to argue that while their client had been drinking, alcohol did not cause the crash.

Four witnesses said they saw Schillinger's Volkswagen's hatchback zigging and zagging through traffic at high speeds leading up to the crash.

The crash ejected Fleming from her Hyundai. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office determined Fleming died of blunt-force trauma.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me